Michael Green was present at the Suburban CC meeting on Tuesday night and he had news of a town planning conference he’d attended in
Inverness. He told the Subbies:
“Basically this is the Scottish Government’s response to the town centre initiative; it’s very, very encouraging. What the whole report speaks about is putting power back to local communities and trying to get life back into town centres. I attended last week the
Highlands and Islands Institute
of Town Planners conference and it was a fabulous day. The amount of activity
that is going on the length and breadth of Scotland in various town centres
that I was totally unaware of from Orkney down to Biggar – it is absolutely
fabulous, the activity that is going on. I read the reports, having looked
through everything, having discussed this with a lot of the delegates: Craig
MacLaren, the National Director of the Institute of town planners; Professor
Cliff Haig; leading experts in their field. I spoke to Derrick MacKay on
Thursday at a breakfast meeting and put forward the idea which I am putting
forward to the area committee. Which is for the area committees to have town
centre champions. Because the report and the response is all about ownership and
it is all about leadership.
At this conference there were only three councillors there and I would suggest that to leave it up to Highland Council, councillors, under the current structure I don’t think is going to get us where we want to be. I think if you can get town centre champions, folk who will take on the role, who will actually engage with these various people who will draw in resources, will actually drive the whole project forward. If we do it on a broad front I think it just creates inertia. I think if you can have the concept of town centre champions who will actually pick up this project and drive it forward, I think will be a real step in the right direction. So I put that on the agenda, it’s going to be discussed, I’ve already circulated it to the Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey committee and I’ll be speaking to Thomas Pragg about getting it adopted to the Council because I do think this needs, as the report states, it’s not just my opinion it’s what the report says, it needs ownership and it needs leadership.”
At this point Martin Ashford made and intervention: “Who will it be Michael, these town centre champions? Will the be employed or volunteers?”“Absolutely not, they will be councillors. They will roll their sleeves up and get on with it.”
“Are you volunteering,” asked Martin.
“Yes,” replied Michael. […] I’ll make time because I can think of nothing more important than this.”
Michael’s optimism and suggested initiative was well received by the usual suspects and also a few members of the public in attendance.